Friday, October 31, 2014

Those who cannot remember the past ...

... are condemned to repeat itGeorge Santayana is credited with this quote

Facebook profile pic
from many years ago
Anyone who knows me ... anyone who has read more than a post or two in this blog or paid attention to what I post on Facebook knows that I am awkward ... at least I feel awkward.

I always have.

Awkward, insecure, isolated, misunderstood, castigated, incongruous, moronic and often abhorred ...

All of my life ...

Most of the time ...

I don't know why, and it's not important.  Lord knows there are a multitude of factors that may have combined to generate these feelings.

This is part of my journey

This is the past I must learn from.

As I fought with the need to truly transition I chose to not take the direct route ... in fact, the avenue I traveled was about as far out of the way as I could possibly go.  I created an alternate Facebook account ... "Tiffanie Some day."  I made friends, asked questions, sought advice all with the absolute protection of complete anonymity.  To my surprise, and with a tad of skepticism I was completely supported and encouraged.

My beautiful Pam
and my handsome Timmy

Not encouraged to transition per se.  I was encouraged to talk ... to pray ... to probe my feelings ... to be honest with myself ... with Pam.

For the first time I felt I could really be completely open ... completely me ... completely female without repercussions.

But there were possible repercussions.

So many of my new friends had lost their jobs ... had friends abandon them ... were disowned by their families ... suffered through their spouse leaving or demanding a divorce.

I truly understand that making such a drastic change can cause people to react in sometimes negative and unpredictable ways.  They may truly not know what to do or what to say.  They might not understand the reasons or feelings driving such a process.  Possibly the thought of transition is too confusing.  They may even have legitimate beliefs that do not condone my situation.  I can respect this.  It is important to stick to one's moral beliefs.

I touched on this in my very first blog post.
I will warn you up front that some of the topics and issues I will be discussing are very personal ... Not X-rated, likely not even R-rated, but personal. Some of you will dislike what I am saying, find me disgusting or think I am somehow perverse, disturbed or just generally sick. That's fine, you don't have to like me, you don't have to accept me or my choices ... But then again you don't have to read this blog either.
 I also said
Why am I deciding to possibly pursue my gender issues so late in life? I don't know ... but the desire to resolve this lifelong issue has grown exponentially over the past months and years. This is, in fact, why I am writing this. I am not trying to inspire others. I am not making a statement or being an activist. I am simply trying to understand my feelings and myself. 
Transgender logo
just one of many
places on the
gender spectrum
Really, change is not necessary to separate people.  Simply the passage of time alone may cause the closest of people to drift apart.

My first Facebook account became less and less active as I became more and more comfortable as Tiffanie ... as me.  By the time summer 2013 rolled around it was pretty much dead.  Despite this lack of activity virtually no friends disappeared from my friends list.

I sought out a small handful of friends and asked them if they would like to remain friends on my Tiffanie account.  I can't give any really logical reason for who I talked to and who I didn't.  Everyone I messaged had always been supportive of me through other issues ... insomnia, depression, being out of shape. This is not meant to imply that others on my list were not kind to me ... I just felt a different connection.

Of the 15 or so friends I talked to, all but one friended my new account.

Over the months others stumbled across my account either through Pam, my blog or through other posts on my now dying account.

Through the summer of 2014 I began to change my account ... replacing my name with my initials, replacing my familiar eyeball with GLBT and transgender logos, changing gender to  female, and finally changing my name to Tiffanie with a more current picture before my birthday.  In the days and weeks that followed 14 people disappeared from my friends list ... and yet many more than that acknowledged the change and still wished me a happy birthday, or became friends on my active account.

That is fine.  I know I cannot force someone to be a friend ... and I do not want "pity friends" either.  If one wants to remain in contact with me, all they need to do is ask ... I will not pursue nor pester anyone.

Often times more is said by one's silence than by one's words.  Often one proves more about their character by what they don't do rather than by their actions.

 I will not assume that anyone who chooses to not stay in contact with me has an agenda.  I will not question their endgame nor criticize them for not considering my feelings regardless of their decision.

Happily I currently have 50 people on my friends list that I knew prior to transition ... more than 50 if you count family members.  I would dearly love to keep more friends than this, but that is not my decision.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

As things go ...

Me ... no makeup,
no photo touch ups
I find myself getting lost in a quagmire of strange and often disconnected thoughts.

This blog was started just over 2 years ago.

Filled with doubts, dealing with depression and anxiety, scared of losing everything I dumped my thoughts ... my deepest fears ... my biggest battles out for people to see.

And people did see it.

I do not understand why people read this, but they do.

Very recently, in a conversation with my counselor I mentioned the following thought:

        Two years ago I never imagined I would ever make it this far.

        I've been living full time for a year ... but it all seems so long ago.  It's strange.  I feel like 
        I've been here ... living as a female for a long time.  I don't understand why all that seems 
        so far away now, but it does.

        All those fears ... the doubts.  I never thought I would get here.

Yeah, I know ... that's not earth shattering.  It is, however, an epiphany ... a realization that in the midst of the crises over the past few years I have not only survived ... I've began to thrive.

For fun I typed "Tiffie meme"
into a google search.
This was one of the results
It's how I feel sometimes ...
Nice try, but not quite

There is still much work to do.  There are likely down days or depressive periods in my future.  There are some issues I have not dealt with as of yet.  I am not saying I am doomed to be despondent and filled with despair for the rest of my life ... I'm just being realistic in the way emotional energy flows.

Other than this blog I sometimes jot down thoughts ... ideas that pass through my brain at 1,000 mph and leave some remnants behind.

Often these thoughts are negative.  "I can't do this," or, "I will never achieve that."

The lingering doubts and self degradation has not been kind to me ... I have not been kind to myself.  I am trying to learn how.

A few days ago I started writing.  I wasn't sure what I was going to write, just that a the first glimmers of a concept were forming.

There was a comment about happiness and success ... how to achieve it, what it really was.  I don't want to quote it as it is not the point.  The point is I did not completely agree with it and I was not sure why.  This is what I ended up writing:

        I am likely one of the luckiest women in the world. I don't always feel that way, but really I am.

        I live in a world that depicts and judges success with standards like beautiful physical

        appearance, the number in your bank account, what college degree one holds, how successful
        are your children, what is your job title and many other truly irrelevant benchmarks.

        I am not saying that these items are not nice to achieve or acquire ... I'm just saying they are

        not necessary to be considered a success. 

        The dictionary defines success as "The accomplishment of one's goals." A very old definition

        simply means, "Outcome." 

        If you really want me to go all etymology geek on you I could mention that the root of the 

        word is from Latin Suc meaning "Come after" or "Go near" and Cede meaning "To endure" 
        or "To turn out well."

        Success ... a form of the word succeed ... To come after enduring.

        - I have a beautiful wife.
        - We have an awesome son.
        - I have a job where I help and teach people ... and help special needs kids.
        - I have achieved many goals.

        I still have many goals I would like to achieve ... I suppose that is necessary or I really have 

        no reason to push forward. I may never achieve all of my goals, but I will endure. And 
        whatever comes after the enduring, according to the definition make me a success.

So why do I bother sharing this?

Don't know, really.
My beautiful Pam
and our son Tim

Maybe I am figuring that at some point in the future I will need to be reminded of these words.  Maybe they are written for somebody else who is suffering through a hard time and may stumble across them.  Maybe it is simply because I am seeing my path clearly for the first time ... not just the direction I am heading, but where the path is leading and understanding that I really am moving forward.

We will see.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Questioning sanity ...

Not my sanity ... well not all the time anyway.

People ... people in general.  Seriously ... what's wrong with them?

I'm driving to work listening to my local radio station.  The morning crew is very entertaining ... it is a "News / Talk" station, so there is a lot of banter as well as news, traffic and weather updates.  They like to find the strange stories from around the country as well as locally and everyone throws their two cents worth into the mix.  It's rather entertaining most of the time because there always seems to be at least one who takes the opposing viewpoint and the debate ensues ... and so do the calls.

I could actually do without some of the callers who, I guess consider themselves important or celebrities or experts or something ... they seem to call regardless of the subject because they just happen to know something about it ... I guess.

One of the latest topics was based on this article on gender inclusion.

I am always hesitant or skeptical when the subject of gender or inclusion are discussed by people who do not understand the issues, and this day was no different.  I really want to give people the chance to show they want to learn or try to comprehend, but in the end they always seem to draw conclusions based on ...

?? OK, I am not sure what they base their opinions on, so speculating on how they draw their conclusions will likely not be the right answer.

The article is arguing against this handout from a Nebraska school district.  The author misconstrues and misinforms his readers as to the purpose of the article.  He is making it sound like we are not allowed to differentiate between a boy and a girl, when the handout is only saying that those are not the only two options ...

*** Fall 1978 ***

My brother and I are in our Sunday school class.

Technically we were in different classes ... he was in high school and I was in junior high, but there were not very many junior high kids so they combined the classes.  To be specific there were four of us.  Three girls and me.

Monte bounced into the class in his typical fashion ... good mood, big grin and laughing.  Today we were starting to rehearse for the Christmas program.

A beautiful moon
As a side note, and possibly future flashbacks, I didn't like the Christmas programs at church much.  When I was very young I was supposed to sing a duet of sorts with Sissy Madden.  After a few rehearsals  we had the song pretty well memorized ... the night of the program she was a no show.  My duet was a solo ... and I did terrible.  I remembered my verse and the verse we sang together but stumbled badly on hers.  I was near tears and horribly embarrassed.

I don't like embarrassment.

I don't like the feeling that everyone is staring at me ... of being isolated in the spotlight ... of the snyde remarks they don't think I hear followed by the not so reassuring false compassion in their comments when they talk to me directly.

So Monte is explaining what the plans are.  Nothing original ... songs.

"OK ... we need to split up into groups.  We're going to make this fantastic."  Monte's enthusiasm was on the verge of being horribly annoying.  "High school boys over there by the counter.  All of you."

The room we were in was a kitchen / cafeteria for the school.  The walls could be folded back to make one huge room, but today we were partitioned into the small room.  The counter was the serving counter between the actual kitchen and the eating area.

The boys jumped up, kicking chairs, making comments, being loud.

"Junior high girls over there."  I am not certain where Monte gestured for them.  I was waiting fo him to realize I was sitting there.

"He'll tell me what to do in a second." I thought.  "Or maybe my place is with the girls.  But how could he know?  Nobody knows."

"Monte paused for a moment.  The boys were behind me making a small ruckus, but not saying anything specific about me ... yet.  "There's only three of you?," he asks the girls.  "Go sit with the high school girls."

So here I was ... sitting in the middle of a room in a chair by myself while staring at the wall and trying not to notice everyone now staring at me.  "I guess I better get used to this ... not a boy ... not a girl.  But I am a girl ... just nobody knows."  I am relatively these are just thoughts, but I may have been muttering by this point.  I don't really care.

The church from
many years ago

Monte walks past me ... the only one still sitting in the middle of the room, and he does not say a word.  He addresses the high school boys for a second.  I am listening but not watching.  "Why is he over there?" he whispers to the group.

"I'm three feet away from you.  Why don't you ask me?"  Again, I hope I am thinking, but my stomach was now a solid know, I felt every eye on me and heard every whisper said about me.  "Just leave me here.  Put me with the girls ... I don't want to be with those boys now."  I entered a zone that I learned where there was no reaction ... no emotion ... no sign of life in my head at all.  "This is what the rest of my life will be like.  I better get used to it." 

I heard Monte's foot pivot on the carpet.  "Get over here with the boys."

I was sick.  Sick and embarrassed.

I don't like embarrassment.

It really is an unexplainable, empty, intensely soul ripping feeling to not belong.  I didn't click with the boys ... I just didn't get them, although I could keep up with there banter.  I didn't belong with the girls whether I would have clicked or not.

After the class my brother asked me why I didn't gather with the boys.

"He said high school boys.  I'm not high school."  My words were a bit terse as I was still feeling singled out.  "He addressed everyone else separately ... he never told me what to do."  Did I say that out loud?  I doubt it because my brother didn't react.

I will give my brother credit on this one.  I am sure he realized how uncomfortable I was, so he did not pursue the questioning.  "Don't worry about it."  His words were not all that convincing, but it was better than what the others said as they scurried off to church.


Not fitting in ... not being noticed ... not being recognized for who or what you are.  That is what the handout from the school district is about.  Letting kids, and adults understand that not everyone fits into a perfect little mold.

They are not trying to make everyone eunuchs ... they are trying to wipe out everyone else's identity to satiate or placate  a vast minority of the population.  They are trying to give the minority an identity of their own.

If a teacher today were to have the kids line up with blacks in one line and whites in the other they would be fired ... but if that were to happen, where would the Hispanic kids or the Asian kids line up??  The would feel out of place ... singled out, or left out ... or worse.  They truly would not fit in anywhere.

By altering how kids line up they may actually talk to more than just their few friends.  They may learn something about someone ... but no.  We are not supposed to say, "If your birthday is between July and December get in one line and birthdays from January to June get in the other."  Something like that may actually teach younger kids their calendar or let kids know that a friend may have a birthday near theirs.

"If your shirt is red, yellow or blue take this line ... purple , green and orange take the other."  Heaven forbid kids learn primary and secondary colors.  "Long sleeve & short sleeve" - "Likes veggies, don't like veggies" - "Prefers apples, prefers oranges" - "Ford or Chevy."

I guess finding out things like that is divulging too much personal information.

Linda, my eldest sister is a teacher.  She may be doing a face-palm over some of my suggestions, but I bet she could have a dozen ways to divide her class other than boys and girls.

Why is that so hard??

Why is that so wrong???

I didn't get to listen to much of the morning radio show that day.  I do not know if anyone called in and pointed out some of the issues, or if they actually looked at the handout and not just what the moron said, but it's still sad that people join the herd and stampede over everyone without looking for the facts themselves ,,, or putting themselves in someone else's place.

Nobody is suggesting that all of society eliminate all gender based pronouns or labels ... but maybe it is time for everyone to reduce their importance ... to not force somebody into any category they do not belong in.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Strange memories

The mind is a very strange thing.

I'm not saying my mind is a strange thing ... well it is, but that's not the point I'm trying to make.

Trying to write this post is a simple example.  I have started writing this many times but wind up going out on long and intense tangents while reliving many moments from my life.

I often wonder what triggers memories ... or even how memories are stored and recalled.  Why is it that I can remember incredible details of events that happened when I was 4 or younger, yet other events are not as quickly summoned to my conscious mind?

Why is it that I can remember so many facets of my sister's wedding?

I can see her in her gown ... beautiful and elegant.  The slight crack in our father's voice when he gave her away.  The reception ... the little candies so smooth and melting in my mouth with such a mild mint flavor.  But despite all the good my mind inevitably returns to the day I was with her and my mom at Sears looking for a brown suit.

I never liked Sears in the first place.  There was always an ambient hum emanating from the PA system with occasionally interrupted by a loud crackle followed by a louder and deeper hum while a low beeping code echoed through the store.  This particular day seemed to drag on.  I was beyond bored, but my sister kept looking through all the racks.

I found a brown suit and pointed it out.  This launched my sister into a screaming and crying tirade.  I could repeat what she said, but it is not relevant ... it hurt.  I was trying to help and I got ripped apart.  I doubt she even realized what she did ... I doubt she remembers, but I do.


My brother and I reminisce with laughter about the day our elder brother threw us in the back of our 1963 Datsun with no seat belts to look for my sister who had apparently run away.  The taste of the dust and oil tinged exhaust fill my senses as we tell the story.

Despite these fond and funny memories this always triggers the events before the wild ride.  I remember being so bored with whatever was on TV that I chose to walk around the back yard.  Because I was outside by myself I was not allowed to go behind the detached garage because ... actually, I don't remember why that was a rule, but it was ... and I went there ... and I was scared that I would get caught.

Then I saw my sister on the outside of the fence ... just sitting there.  I was breaking a rule, but so was she.  I walked to the fence and asked what she was doing.  She didn't really answer, but she basically threatened me to not tell anyone.

To this day she swears this did not happen ... that nobody saw her.

I went back into the house.  I couldn't tell anyone where she was without admitting that I broke the rules.  This conflict made me feel sick.

After a bit my elder brother and eldest sister realized she was not in the house.  After an angry hunt through every room my elder brother asked if I had seen her.  I was paralyzed ... If I say no I would be lying and get in trouble ... if I say where I saw her I admit I broke the rules and get in trouble.

"She was up by the back fence when I was outside."  I couldn't make eye contact.  I didn't want either my elder brother or sister to be angry with me.  I likely eventually let it slip that she was on the other side of the fence, but I was near tears and was afraid so I am not sure what was said by whom for a while.

After a quick search of the yard we were in the Datsun searching ... because I said that is why we were on the back road searching.

So I find myself in an uncomfortable situation.  I am told that I need to deal with my emotions ... but if I tell stories about hurtful situations I am told that I am dwelling on the negative, that I am airing dirty laundry or that I am not taking the feelings of others into consideration.

What about my feelings?

I do not like the fact that even in the midst of a good memory of a fun time a hurtful or negative flashback intervenes ... it just happens.

So even when I am remembering some hilarious times like chasing Mr. Schofield with water balloons or my brother, sister and I dominating a summer bowling league, there is always the hurtful jab attached ... like being told that I was not a good bowler, that the only reason I was on the family team was to give the other two handicap.

Or when I remember the company picnic at Hurricane Harbor I will remember floating in the endless river with Timmy and going down a couple of viscous water slides the memories drift to Maya, a coworker's granddaughter playing in the wave simulator when she got overwhelmed and panicked.

Was she drowning?  I'm not sure, but she did yell for help as she went under the water.

I don't know if the lifeguards didn't react or if my nerves made me quick to react.  I had promised Leo that I would watch his granddaughter ... but Timmy was there, too.

I'm not sure how or why, but I tend to remain calm is stressful situations.

I swam over and grabbed Maya and helped her stay afloat for a second.  I looked a Timmy and told him, "Stay with me.  Keep a hold on me ... I can't hold both of you."  I shifted Maya to the lifesaver hold and swam sidestroke to the edge of the pool.

By this time they had stopped the simulator, but there were still swells ... and idiots that would not get out of my way, even with the lifeguard yelling at them.  I got them both to the side and the lifeguards helped us all out.

"Thanks," one of them said. "I didn't really want to get wet today."  He laughed a bit, I think trying to ease the tension ... but this is when my calm usually wears off and the emotions kick in.

Maya stood there and gasped for a few moments as she began to cry.  The staff was so nice to her and Timmy both.

In the adrenaline rush I forgot that Timmy would be shaken ... but he handled everything pretty well.  Afterward, on the way home he talked about it being scary ... but we still had fun.

So why, I can hear you ask ... why is that a negative thought?

Because it shouldn't have happened.  I should have known that the waves would be too strong for a pre-teen girl like Maya with no raft or other flotation device ... I should have never let her drift as far away as she did.  If I had truly looked after her I would have talked her out of the wave pool.  Every time I think of this I feel her panic ... I see the uncertainty in Timmy's eyes when I said I couldn't carry him ... the fear Leo showed when the staff escorted us to him because he had to sign some papers regarding the rescue.

Rescue - to deliver from danger.

Danger - exposure to harm or injury

As random as these memories are, I do not know what triggers them ... or any of the thousand other memories that roam my mind every hour ... every minute.

The smell of cooked yams brings the memory of my father yelling at me for wasting food because I didn't like the flavor of the yams ... plain, boiled yams ... mushy and bitter with a sickening smell.  I was sent to the table on the patio and was not allowed to leave until I ate every bite.

One of my sister did try to help by sitting beside me and feeding me.  I gagged every bite down ... there wasn't enough water, punch or turpentine to wash the awfulness from my taste buds.  "Just a couple more bites." she said.

"I can't."  I think I was crying n=by this time.  I know I was having trouble breathing ... but the spoon came back to my mouth and everything in my stomach went back onto the plate.

She did clean up and threw everything away outside as she told me to leave the table ... but the smell of yams triggers the memory and truly makes me want to puke again.

When I explain this there are some who say things like, "I just choose to not have bad memories."

Really?  No bad memories?  Please tell me how because that would be wonderful.  Hell, I can't even think of the 4th of July family get togethers which were 70% or more fond memories without remembering my sister and brother in law exploding into a political argument.  It made me sick makes me sick.

"Always look for the positive in a situation."

I don't see a positive in a bus driver hitting a kid in the crosswalk and killing her.  Even though it was not out of my yard and even though I only taught the class portion of her training I was grilled for 2 hours by CHP and CDE while running a 100+ fever ... then came the lawyers and the depositions.  And I think about that poor girl and her family whenever I drive past the intersection ... I wonder if I should have noticed something in the way the trainee behaved in class that might have been a clue to potential problems.

"Everyone is allowed to be sad occasionally, but if you keep a positive attitude you won't be depressed."

Ummm ... no comment.  Seriously.  Especially coming from a person who should have some basic knowledge of depression and other issues.

So have I had a terrible life?


Do I try to remember all the bad things?

No.  It just happens, and it sucks ... but I am trying to deal with it.  I just can't deal with it if it stays bottled up.

Even as I am trying to end this entry I am having flashbacks ... the hurt look on Timmy's face when I got angry over something insignificant ... The times I've hurt Pam, or have not been there when she's needed me.  That has been a lot lately ... not being there ... mentally or emotionally